Sunday, 26 January 2014

Time to Start Simplifying

Wow - this is my 200th post, so I'm pleased that it's on something new, that signals the start of my 2014 journey. Yes, I am full aware that we are almost a month into 2014 already, but I'm a bit slow sometimes.

I thought that, to start my quest to simplify things that I do, I would get started with some easy wins that can be done from the comfort of my sofa - yep, still feeling a bit rubbish after the dental surgery.

So, what can I do to make my Internet time more productive? Or at least less time consuming...

Blogs     -     I follow quite a few blogs, but they come to me from a couple of different places. Some come to me via Blogger when I go to my home page there, whereas others (some by people who post a lot) come to me via email. I really need to get these out of my inbox and add them to my reading list as I am finding that I am getting overwhelmed by the number of emails arriving into my inbox each day.

Facebook     -     Reduce the amount of posts I can see from various people. Some people post a lot of things that are funny, motivational, cute, informative, etc. and some of these are lovely or even useful. However, they take up a lot of time when it comes to checking out what's going on, especially when you're like me and if the post interests you, you end up reading all the comments on the post, and possible following links to other posts - it's like a rabbit warren that you can never come out of... In theory I could also stop checking on the groups that I am a member of so often, but if I can't sort that out then I will step out of some of these groups. In fact - some of them I should probably just step out of anyway...

Emails     -     Once I have moved the blogs to my reading list my inbox will be a much more manageable place. However, my other big influx comes from these health/wellbeing/ development subscriptions. They may be great for some people, but for me, realistically I know I will never read them, but I keep them in case I find something really useful in there for me when I finally have time to read them. I need to use that unsubscribe link at the bottom of each one as they come in so that I don't get any more from them. I also need to sort my inbox (which is a total state, mainly due to the subscriptions), file the ones that I need to keep, delete the others, and archive some of the mails that are already filed.

Any suggestions that you may have of other tips that could help me in this area would be greatly appreciated.


101 Project Decision

OK guys, so it's time to make that decision - stop or go...?

If I were to stop now, and chose to focus on my key words from scratch, how many of the 14 items still on my 101 list would be on my list of things to do?

-     Watch 10 classic films (3 left)
-     Cooking/baking with the boys
-     12 date nights with Ben (6 left)
-     Embroider a sampler.
-     Learn 6 new recipes (2 to go)
-     30 minutes per day to relax/meditate for two weeks.
-     Buy some nice high heels and wear them. (not worn yet)
-     Journal daily for two weeks (15 minutes minimum).
-     Keep to a basic household routine using my Plannerisms planner.Yes
-     Set up a recipe binder
-     Manage bank accounts properly.Yes
-     Sort through the hallway cupboardsYes
-     Sort through the boxes upstairs that haven't been unpacked yetYes
-     3 month Facebook ban Yes

Wow - not many of them. Some of the other items I would still like to do, but either they are not urgent, or I wouldn't necessarily want to restrict them to a set period of time.

Having reviewed my options in the level of detail that I have (and dragged you through my messy mind), I think I am ready to make the decision, and I feel the right thing for me to do is to step away from my 101 in 1001 days, congratulate myself on the things I have achieved and let the rest go.

Thank you for listening to my ramblings, and helping to make my 101 challenge happen. I know not everything was achieved, but a lot of what was completed wouldn't have even been started if I had not made myself accountable by sharing in this blog.

Have a great week.


Saturday, 25 January 2014

101 Progress and Rethink

It's been a while since I last posted an update on my 101 in 1001 days challenge (a whole month), and I have been very lax on this for a few reasons.

1)     It's been very busy at work with year end and reporting
2)     I started doing P90X3 on January 6th, so that rather cuts into my available time
3)     I seem to have lost my motivation, and when I look at that list now I don't see things that I want
        to do, but that I now feel I ought to do because back in October 2011 I said I would like to.

This post may end up being ridiculously long while I basically talk myself through the whole decision process regarding what to do, and for this I apologise now.

As always at the start of a new year, people start to make resolutions, think about their futures, and motivational quotes get posted everywhere. I haven't made any new year's resolutions, but I have chosen a couple of key words to help guide me through the year: Simplify, and Health.

Simplify could apply to my work as well as my personal stuff, and could potentially help me in my quest to simplify processes (simpler processes generally give less opportunity for user error in my experience). The company I work for will be changing ownership later this year, so I believe a large part of my focus will be on assisting in the integration process, and if I can help by trying to consider some easy wins in this through simplification (especially in the early stages), then that would be great.

Obviously with big changes at work I will be kept very busy, and therefore need to simplify more at home, potentially reducing my own personal challenges, and getting more routines in place.

Due partly to the need to simplify my life (and be more help at home), and partly to my lack of motivations mentioned in point three above, I was considering just bailing out of my 101 challenge completely, but it would be a shame to just give up without checking it out properly first. There are various things that I need to consider as there are only five months left to complete this, The sensible thing is probably to go through my options one by one:

 Option 1:     Just keep plugging away at the tasks and see how far I can get by the end.
                     -    I could do this, but don't see myself getting any more motivated, so think I would be
                          setting myself up to beat myself up for the next five months... pretty pointless I think
                          you'll agree

Option 2:     Pat myself on the back for what I have achieved and call it a day.
                    -     currently I have achieved 68 of the 101, most of which I wouldn't have done at all if
                          it hadn't been for this challenge, with a further 13 in progress. But do I want to admit
                          defeat yet?

Option 3:     Go through the remaining challenges to see if they fit in with my keywords for the year
                    and make changes where they don't.
                    -     I see this as a happy medium, and feel I should at least take a look at this option
                          before pulling out of the project.

So, what challenges are outstanding?

-     Load all music on tapes to iTunes. This doesn't fall in with either of my keywords, and at the
      moment the tapes are buried somewhere in the cellar.

-     Have music playing all day & no TV/ computers for whole family (x3). Another thing that I
      would love to have happen, but don't see this falling in with my keywords. It may sound like a
      simplified life kind of thing, but when you have boys aged 6 & 8 who are used to having  these
      things, then taking them away is not going to feel simple...

-     Watch 10 classic films - I am 7 and a half down. No, still not finished watching Some Like it Hot
      yet, although I did watch The Shawshank Redemption and How to Steal a Million (Audrey
      Hepburn & Peter O'Toole) today while I was off work after dental surgery which has left me
      feeling a bit wobbly. Related to my keywords? Not really...

-     Watch 10 musicals (films) - actually, checking this again I have actually completed this task now
      as I watched Mary Poppins and The Wizard of Oz over Christmas and New Year.

-     Spend 10 minutes teaching/listening to boys reading. Obviously I have spent more than 10
      minutes doing this so technically I could cross it off, but when I wrote it I actually meant 10
      minutes a day. As much as I would love this to happen every day, my boys just aren't that
      interested. Christopher is pretty good at reading in both English & German, but would rather read
      alone, and Marcus would rather be learning to write and as he is due to start school in August
      then I'm happy for him to take it as he wants. Maybe I'll get them into reading with me on a daily
      basis at some point, but for now it would definitely not simplifying anything.

-     One big family day out every month. We tend to go out for half a day rather than a whole day
      when we go out. The boys are so busy in the week that when the weekend comes they are happy
      to go out for half a day, and want to spend the other day having a PJ day and just playing at home.
      When the weather warms up again we'll be back to visiting the zoo and the wilderness park,  
      which are their favourite places to go. Both are now cycling well, so we take them up to the
      school house to play on their bikes when it's not too wet out, and they are happy doing that.
      Would insisting on making one of our trips out each month for a whole day make anything
      simpler? I doubt that very much...

-     Teach boys to swim or arrange lessons. Christopher has been having lessons at school, but still
      isn't confident in the water and spends most of his time seeing how far he can go underwater, but
      stay in water that isn't out of his depth as he's not so good at staying above the water. Marcus will
      be starting lessons when he goes to school, but there are no classes with spaces near us at the
      moment. In theory we could try to take them swimming every week, but as I'm not a good
      swimmer myself, and we are already so busy at weekends trying to catch up all the outstanding
      stuff from in the week, I don't see that this would simplify things for any of us at the moment.

-     10 photos sessions with the boys. As much as I love having pictures of my boys, they really are
      not ones to want to spend more than about two minutes posing for the camera, and I don't really
      want to get myself (and them) stressed out by trying to get perfect photos of them.

-     Write a short story for the boys. I mentioned this to them, and to be honest, they really weren't
      that interested in having me write a story just for them. I am not a natural writer (I hated having to
      write essays at school), if I were I'd probably be able to class this under health - but for me it
      would probably be more of an anti-health thing.

-     12 date nights with Ben (6 down, 6 to go). Simple? I wish. Babysitters over here are crazy
      expensive, and as nice as it is to have a date night at home, realistically, by the time the boys are
      in bed, we're both shattered and want to just chill. We will have date nights, but as we've managed
      six in fifteen months, there is no way we're going to feel relaxed even trying to fit another six into
      the next five months.

-     Take a one hour walk on my own (x3) - doing this would be good for my health, and potentially
      feel simple for the hour that it was happening, what's not simple is finding the time to be away
      from the family to do this. Weekends is our family time, during the week we're all so busy with
      both of us working full time that there is no time for this - certainly not until the summer :-)

-     Become confident enough to hold a conversation in German. Actually, thinking about it I do have
      conversations in German - would I like to be more confident? Yes, of course. But am I good
      enough to do what I need to do? Yes. So I can class this one as complete.

-     Embroider a sampler. I had to change this to a picture as I couldn't get hold of a sampler apart
      from in a cross stitch kit, and started this over Christmas. I have enjoyed what I have done so far,
      and have bought a basic booklet that shows different types of stitches to try. I would like to
      continue this, and it is good for relaxation, but is it essential? Not really, and I would rather be
      doing it as something in my spare time, than trying to force it into a deadline.

-     Read 5 books in German - really? Is this going to simplify things for me? No. I thought this
      would be a good way to become more comfortable with the language, but I don't find sitting with
      a book and a dictionary works for me.

-     Write a poem - relaxing? For some.... Simplifying or healthy? For me... no

-     Learn 6 new recipes (2 to go). This could be healthy, even homemade cakes would be healthier
      than shop bought ones right?

-     Take camera on days out and use it - I have done this on occasion, but generally Ben is the one
      with the camera, not me.

-     30 minutes per day to relax/meditate for two weeks. This definitely falls under health :-)

-     Learn to use a proper camera. This definitely does not fall into the category "Simplify" for me,
      and again, as with the embroidery, I would still like to do it at some point, but without any

-     Buy some nice high heels and wear them. I bought some boots with heels for work, does that
      count? Although I haven't worn them yet... Not health related though, or anything to do with
      simplifying things.

-     Give more praise at work and at home. It's not really measurable, but I feel that I have actually
      achieved this. Yay!!!

-     Journal daily for two weeks (15 minutes minimum). Mental health - check :-)

-     Keep to a basic household routine using my Plannerisms planner - this is definitely related to
      simplifying things, and I have been doing this on and off, but really need to knuckle down and
      stick with it.  

-     Set up a recipe binder - yep, definitely a simplify thing :-)

-     Blog re the 101 in 1001 - I think I can safely say that I have achieved this.

-     Manage bank accounts properly - this could fit into simplify.

-     Sort through the hallway cupboards - definitely simplifying things as this would mean I would
      have less junk, and would actually know where things are...

-     Sort through the boxes upstairs that haven't been unpacked yet - as above

-     Take fish oils daily for 3 months - completed :-)

-     Take iron supplements for 3 months - likewise :-)

-     3 month Facebook ban (apart from personal messages, adding my own photos etc) - this would
      definitely be a good step in simplifying things - it would stop me wasting so much time for 3
      months so I can get others things done.

-     3 month Keep In Touch project (letters, calls etc) - simplify? Hmmm... not sure. It's adding things
      to do, where previously (for many people) I could keep in touch via Facebook - undecided.

From this we can see that I have managed to complete six more items, and am closer to finishing another, taking my total up to 74 completed challenges.

The challenges that fit with neither of my keywords and would definitely be cancelled are as follows:

-     Load all music on tapes to iTunes.
-     Have music playing all day & no TV/ computers for whole family (x3).
-     Spend 10 minutes teaching/listening to boys reading.
-     One big family day out every month.
-     Teach boys to swim or arrange lessons.
-     10 photos sessions with the boys.
-     Write a short story for the boys.
-     Take a one hour walk on my own (x3)
-     Read 5 books in German
-     Write a poem
-     Take camera on days out and use it
-     Learn to use a proper camera.
-     3 month Keep In Touch project? - undecided.

So 13 items to come off the list, which would take me down to 88 in 1001 days, so not completing the challenge, but doing what's right for myself and my family at this time.

If I were to choose option 3, then I will ass a few more tasks re simplifying things, and improving health.

-     Stop reading blogs for 3 months (excluding FiloLifestyle, as this has been started by Karine from
      the FB group of the same name, which is full of great people encouraging each other in their
      health, fitness, financial, and organisational control). This does not mean that at the end of the
      three months I can go back and read all the posts I have missed...

-     Deutsch in 30 days book, this will help ensure that my basics are correct, and I can do this on the
      train each day.

-     Complete one round of P90X3 (started)

-     Follow nutrition guide for P90X3 - doesn't have to be totally rigid as I'm not on a quest for
      dramatic results (started)

-     Have a Facebook cleanup

Also, my 40th birthday is this year, before the end date for the 101 project, so there may be a few that I would add to the list to go with that (possibly to go to New York, and things to see or try while I'm there).

So, in summary, I think we can remove option one from the running as being a bit pointless. All it would do is show that, yes, I can follow something through to the end with pure dogged determination, and that I am happy to sabotage my life to do so... really, does anyone want to be that person.

Option 2 - I've completed 74 items, so could just call it a day.

Option 3 - reduce items to 88 (possibly adding others), therefore not completing the 101 anyway, but getting further.

So - 2 or 3, which is it to be?

I will be thinking about this and will be making my decision this weekend - so if you've stuck through to the end of this post (which I rambled into my notebook last night while on painkillers), treat yourself to some chocolate or something to replenish your energy after having to follow all this inane withering.

I'll keep you posted (in a much shorter post hopefully).


P.S. Sorry, my spellcheck has just refused to work, and I've rambled so much that I can't face reading through it all again, so I apologise now for spelling and typing issues... and any random autocorrects that may be in here. :o)